With so many diverse culinary options out there, from upscale Indian eateries to decadent street burgers, it was hard to narrow down the list of our favorite restaurants in Israel. If the list below isn’t enough for you, try a 3-day culinary tour for a deeper look at Israeli cuisine, or a cooking class in Jerusalem using ingredients you get from Mahane Yehuda. No matter how well acquainted you are with food here, this list offers you a great jumping-off point that won’t let you down.
Oasis- Tel Aviv
Oasis is a labor of love by chef Rima Olivera and her tightly-knit team at this intimate urban haven. With an emphasis on seasonal dishes and the highest quality ingredients from around the world, each dish transports you to a new world- all the entrees are named for different airports around the world. When possible, ingredients like fresh wasabi and porcinis from just outside of Rome are brought in, and they dry age their own meat in-house. The wine and cocktail selection is impeccable, and each of the deserts is a revelation. The restaurant has limited seating to elevate the diners’ experience, with indoor seating at a table or the bar, while the outside terrace is a lush oasis: plants trail across the space and a corner is dedicated to a small pond lit by candles. This is our favorite restaurant for special occasions in Tel Aviv, and reservations are a must. El Gato Azul, their brainchild that serves genuine Mexico City fare, is open weekdays, and on Wednesdays, they offer a bar menu from 7 pm on. Whether you’re celebrating a new job or a new engagement, you can’t miss with this jewel.
Montefiore St 17, Tel Aviv-Yafo
This restaurant has been around for years and recently gained a cult-like following with travelers and residents of Jerusalem. Located in the Iraqi section of Mahane Yehuda, Azura is a Turkish-influenced restaurant that serves good, hearty, homemade food with friendly service and startling efficiency. Once considered nothing more than a stop for working men, it has grown considerably in popularity in the last few years, with their signature eggplant dish and creamy hummus drawing customers from all over. Located in a charming courtyard, this homestyle eatery has resisted efforts at gentrification that have ruined so many other authentic restaurants nearby, and remains a neighborhood institution at heart. The slow cooking infuses every dish with mouthwatering flavor, and the simple decor and service actually elevate the experience. If you’re looking for a true Jerusalem experience, this kosher kitchen is the place to be.
4 Ha Eshkol, Iraqi Market, Jerusalem
1910- Kibbutz Deganiya Alef(Tiberias)
This skillful blend of Italian and Mediterranean cuisines is located in a cozy corner of Kibbutz Degania Alef, the first kibbutz established by Jewish Zionist pioneers in Palestine in 1909 and fully operational in 1910, which is where this homey hidden eatery gets its name. Well worth the travel from Tiberias or nearby Rosh Pina, the sprawling terrace that overlooks a verdant courtyard or the indoor area that faces the pizza oven are both warm and atmospheric, making you feel as though you’re eating in a friend’s very nice country home, and having a glass of wine from their extensive cellar. With a focus on local alcohols and wines, alongside Italian favorites like Chianti, the staff is happy to recommend wines that don’t often get their moment in the spotlight, so get adventurous and try an unfamiliar vintage. Each dish is created with sharing in mind, even though we’re not sure you’ll want to after you get your first bite in. Reservations are recommended, but not required, and the restaurant is perfect for family’s looking for a nice night out.
Yard Rishonim, Degania A
Uri Buri- Acre
Sitting in a 400 year old Ottoman building near the shoreline of the rich and complex city of Acre, this global institution is a blend of Arab and Israeli culinary traditions that focuses on fresh seafood and fish caught from the waters beyond. Voted on of the top 25 restaurants in the world, the owner Uri Jeremias exudes a love for life and the food he serves with every dish. The fish and seafood tend to be simply plated, but they are anything but boring or traditional: each bite will make you want to cry with joy. With one side of the restaurant decorated in a contemporary Israeli style and the other resembling the full interior of a Bedouin tent, you don’t get much more lively and authentic than Uri Buri. The focus on local and fresh ingredients also extends to the high-end booze, and over 100 different types of Israeli wines can be found gracing the tables. Make sure to reserve, if possible, a few weeks in advance since it’s incredibly popular.
Ha-Hagana St, Acre
Pago Pago- Eilat
Pago Pago is an institution in the Israeli culinary scene that serves incredible panoramic views over the glittering waters of the Red Sea and succulent fish and seafood dishes are the highlight of the menu. This restaurant has cultivated a prestigious guest list, including local and international celebrities along with dignitaries and their local fan base that can’t get enough of the fresh twists added to the traditional dishes. The meat dishes are divine, with juicy cuts of local meat shining through the contemporary dressings used to elevate the food to a new level. The interior design won’t disappoint either, featuring an emphasis on classical industrial materials and using creative lighting to soften the mood to a romantic ambiance. If the lighting and food aren’t enough to relax you completely, they also offer an incredible full bar featuring an extensive wine list and selection of top shelf liquors. We highly recommend reserving as loyal patrons can pack the place to the gills on any given night, and our shuttle can take you from Tel Aviv if you’re looking to spend a day at the beach or the mall before winding down.
Eilat Marina 99, Eilat
Gan Eden- Tzfat
This hospitable boutique-style and family-run restaurant in the hills of Safed offers guests the chance to kick back and relax as they eat their way through decadent dairy kosher courses. With cuisine that draws heavily from traditional Italian delicacies, everything from the flaky stuffed pastries to the succulent fish will fill you with joy. They offer a curated selection of local Israeli wines to perfectly complement every dish, and the staff is ready to assist with your every need .Both indoor and outdoor seating are available, with a covered deck offering views of nearby Mount Meron, the second highest spot in Israel second only to Mount Hermon, and 4 rooms indoors that center around a cozy wood-burning fireplace. Private spaces are available for larger groups, and we recommend reserving no matter the size of your party; this is an incredibly popular restaurant well-deserving of its reputation.
Ha-Gdud ha-Shlishi St 33, Safed
Yakuta- Beer Sheva
One of Beer Sheva’s best restaurants, Yakuta introduces patrons to all the best of Moroccan home cooking, hospitality, and design all in one tasty package. This restataurant has stood in the old city of Beer Sheva for 52 years, and is a family-run operation named after the owner’s mother in homage to her recipes. The food focuses on hearty comfort food, and is served between opulent walls in a space that could’ve been taken straight from a home in Marrakesh. Everything from the starting salads to the indulgent deserts offers fantastic flavor, but the ox-tail shouldn’t be missed. Their stewed meats and decadent dips are favorites with residents and visitors alike, making reservations a must. This is the perfect choice for any special occasion, and the owner Bar Ben Moyal goes out of his way to make diners feel welcome with a personalized touch.